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What it’s Like Being a Retail Sales Associate

What it’s Like Being a Retail Sales Associate

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Considered pursuing a career in sales? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more. This is a true career story as told to Latpro and is one of many interviews with sales professionals which among others include a product manager, a president of marketing, and everything in between.

I work as a full-time sales associate at Best Buy in Bellevue, Washington. I have worked there for 18 months, but I previously worked in retail for three years at a Target store. I would describe myself as “patient,” “relaxed,” and “sensitive.” I am a white male, which has neither helped nor hurt me. I have not experienced discrimination at work.

As A Retail Sales Associate…

I sell products from the video game and movie departments at Best Buy. I’m in charge of straightening up titles, making sure they are arranged in alphabetical order and classified by genre. I also help restock titles when our inventory gets low. If customers need assistance I help them find what they are looking for, but since we don’t work on commission in that department, I never try to sell items to customers. One common misunderstanding is that we get to play the games or watch movies. We actually don’t have a lot of free time, so we stay busy keeping things in stock or helping customers.

I would rate my job satisfaction as a 4 or 5 out of 10. I don’t want to work in retail forever, but I don’t have a college degree or enough savings to get one. I’m waiting for the economy to improve before I look for better jobs. It definitely doesn’t move me on a personal level, and I don’t feel like I’ve found my calling in life. I’m thinking about a degree in video game design or computer programming, something to match my passion for playing video games. My situation isn’t unique — I think most people at my job aren’t there because they love retail, it’s just a job that pays the bills — but I started full-time right after high school, so I never got the college experience that other people get. If I could go back and do things differently, I might have traveled or moved cities before getting into this job.

One thing I learned the hard way is how mean some customers can be. I try to be friendly and helpful, but some people come into the store in a bad mood and there’s nothing you can do to change that. I tried to have a friendly conversation with a guy about what video games were popular, but he just swore at me and told me to leave him alone. Other people just treat you like you don’t exist. The single most important thing I’ve learned outside of school is keeping a distance between me and the customers. I was pretty miserable when I took this job personally, but now when people are mean I have enough distance to say, “He’s not being mean to me, he’s being mean to a guy who works at Best Buy.”

The strangest thing that ever happened was when a guy tried to steal an iPod in his mouth. We got it out of the case for him, but instead of going straight to the register he went to the bathroom and took it out of the packaging. Our front door attendant stopped him because he had a full mouth and set off the shoplifting detector. The whole thing was pretty hilarious.

I get up and go to work each day because I have to pay my bills. Probably one of the few things that feels good at this job is when people come in and they want to talk about movies or video games. We don’t face a lot of challenges at Best Buy, but some of the customers’ demands have made me want to quit. I need the money though, so I can’t. The job isn’t stressful but it’s not fulfilling, either. I have a comfortable work-life balance because I’m only working eight hours each day. We don’t get any vacation weeks, but I have two days off each week. I get paid $13 per hour, which is good for the location and the workload.

To get this job you need at least a high school diploma. If a friend were considering this job, I would say that it’s okay but it’s not a long term thing. Don’t expect the job to pay really well or provide career advancement. In five years, I hope I’m traveling or living in another city. I like Seattle but I really hope I’m not at this job in five years!

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JustJobs.com JustJobs.com is a job search engine that finds job listings from company career pages, other job boards, newspapers and associations.